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The importance of DNA evidence

7 December 2022

A decade after Ina Bonnette survived the horrific attack of the Modimolle Monster Johan Kotze and his co-accused, she is recovering at home after 21 operations to her body with the severe injuries she sustained.

This operation is the sixth she had to undergo on her foot. She broke her foot defending herself against her attackers, but a general practitioner who examined her to complete her J88 form after the ordeal, missed the injury.

“I was raped by three men, but there was no DNA evidence to link the accused to the attack. That is because Kotzé (her former husband) used Staaldruppels made out of Ferric Chloride to stop my bleeding wounds and to destroy any DNA evidence.

“After the nightmare when I went to the Doctor, I asked him whether or not I could use the bathroom. He said yes. He did not tell me that I am not allowed because I might destroy DNA evidence. In the bathroom, I used a sanitiser type of soap to clean myself. I just wanted to clean myself,” says Bonnette.

Kotze and Andries Sithole were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Bonnette’s son Conrad Bonnette (19) and 10 years for kidnapping. Their co-accused, Pieta Mohlake and Sello Mphaka, were acquitted on the murder charge.

However, all four were convicted of kidnapping, and found guilty on four charges relating to the rape of Bonnette. Mohlake and Mphaka was sentenced 10 years for kidnapping. All four men were given a life sentence on the rape charges.

On charges relating to the assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, Kotze received 15 years while the other three received eight years each.

Bonnette testified that the three men looked on while Kotze sexually tortured her and mutilated her breasts, then took turns raping her.

She was still tied to a bed with tape over her mouth when she heard her son Conrad repeatedly say, “Please uncle, don’t shoot”, followed by three shots.

Conrad Bonnette died at the scene after being shot in the face, chest and knee. Bonnette had to undergo reconstructive surgery and was put on antiretroviral treatment after it emerged that Sithole had tested positive for HIV following his arrest.

Sithole’s attorney argued in court that the absence of DNA evidence supported his clients’ version that they had not raped Bonnette.

“I am very grateful that the men were found guilty although my J88 form was not properly completed. My advice to other victims is to check that the Doctor or medical practitioner is trained in forensic examinations before he or she examines you,” says Bonnette.

According to Constable Mbali Masondo of the Linden Police Station, a victim must not bath, shower or change clothing before coming to the police. “Anything on your body or clothing can be DNA evidence, like sweat or skin under your nails. This helps the state to prove its case,” says Masondo.

She says that abusers are aware that DNA will tie them to the victim. “That is why they often use a condom when raping a victim. Remember, even a husband can rape his wife. There must be consent,” she says.

Bonnette just released her latest book: From Victim of the Modimolle Monster to Victory. You can buy the E-book on E-book Dream Africa for R300.

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